Play With a Purpose: How Having Fun Can Help Symptoms of CP

Children with cerebral palsy love to play just the same way that other children do. However, unlike other children, those with cerebral palsy often require therapy in order to function as well as they possibly can. Play therapy is a way to combine a child’s natural love of play with the therapy that they require, and children with cerebral palsy often benefit from it.

What Is Play Therapy?

Play therapy refers to any therapy that uses the benefits of play as part of the treatment plan. Play therapy has been noted to be beneficial in helping children with the following skills:

  • Feeling expression
  • Behavior modification
  • Problem-solving
  • Social skills

Play Therapy Is Often More Relaxing Than Other Therapies

Children with cerebral palsy are often required to undergo regular treatments with speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. These therapists are vital in helping children achieve success in everyday tasks. However, these therapies can be very stressful for the child. As a parent, you will likely be familiar with how taxing these therapies can be, so, understandably, they will also cause stress to your child.

Play therapy allows the child to relax, play, and have fun with others. Children with cerebral palsy also find that it is easier to feel as though they belong in play therapy, and they feel less like an outsider.

Why Play Therapy Is Important for Children With Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common of the four types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy refers to children who experience a tightening of the muscles that frequently results in muscles feeling stiff or tight. There are different types of spastic cerebral palsy. The diagnosis depends on which parts of the body are affected and to what extent.

Types of spastic cerebral palsy include:

  • Spastic hemiplegia: This refers to spastic cerebral palsy that primarily affects the legs, arms, and hands on a single side of the body.
  • Spastic diplegia: Children with this type of cerebral palsy are affected primarily in the legs.
  • Spastic quadriplegia: This is the most severe type of cerebral palsy, and children with this condition are affected in all four limbs, as well as the torso and face.

Children with spastic cerebral palsy may experience difficulty with basic everyday functions, such as walking and talking. Therapy for these children can greatly improve their everyday mobility, fitness, and independence. Play makes a relaxing atmosphere for these children to improve their skills.

Types of Play Therapy

A variety of play can be incorporated into therapy. Some professionals choose to use music, while others use art. One type of treatment that is very important to the continuing development of children is hand play. This helps children with cerebral palsy learn how to move and grasp with their hands.

Helping Your Child at Home With Play

If your child has cerebral palsy, you can help them continue to improve through certain play activities at home. Stickers and play dough both encourage a child through the use of hand play. Sorting games with balls, blocks, and paperclips can allow children to learn how to grasp objects and move them.

Putting a Smile on the Face of Your Child

A child with severe cerebral palsy may not be able to control their facial muscles well enough to express their enjoyment. However, this does not mean they are not enjoying themselves. Play therapy is a great way to give your child a chance to have fun while working on the activities they need to maximize their movement potential. At the end of the day, it is all about giving your child the best life possible. Play therapy does that by focusing both on the present and the future.